How Emojis and Special Characters Affect Character Counts

   Is your shop on legacy billing? If you downloaded Postscript before 3/1/2022, then your shop is on legacy or credit-based billing. This article is for you.

Every message you send with Postscript contains a character count. We use character counts to ensure the successful delivery of a message via carriers and also determine credit usage.

Why This Is Important

  • Character counts directly impact the cost of your campaign and automation sends.
  • Using emojis and/or special characters can decrease the number of available characters for a message.
  • Emojis and special characters take up more space behind the scenes of a text message and can affect how a carrier sends the message.

Basic Character Definitions

Let's review some definitions that will help you understand the concepts in this article.

  • Characters. Each symbol, letter, and number in a text has a specific character count. In most cases, the character count is one.
  • Credits. At Postscript, each message costs a certain amount of credits to send. The number of characters in a message will affect how many credits a message costs.
  • GSM7 Characters. Basic letters, numbers, and symbols in a text. Spaces are also considered a character.
    • Example: Take 10% off of our heels today only! equals 37 characters. Each character in this message counts as one character.
  • GSM7 Extensive Characters. These characters require an "escape character" within the text which means these characters count as two characters in a message.
    • The following characters are considered GSM7 Extension characters: |    ^    {    }    [    ]    ~    \   €  
  • Emojis or Unicode. Standard emojis count as two characters when writing a message. Including an emoji will make all GSM7 Extension Characters count as one character, not two.
    • Example: Take 10% off of our ~ best-selling ~ heels today only! 😁  equals 57 characters. Each character, including both ~ characters, would count as one character while the emoji would count as two characters.
  • Single SMS messages. These basic messages contain only text. A standard SMS message has 160 available characters, but an SMS message with an emoji only has 70 available characters.
  • Multi-part SMS messages. These messages contain only text and exceed the 160 character count. Each individual message within a multi-part SMS message has a 153 character limit. A multi-part SMS message with an emoji has 67 available characters.
  • MMS. These messages include an image or a GIF and cost 3 credits to send. The above character counts still apply; however, you have 1,600 available characters in your message.
   Note: When inserting tags in a message, such as {first_name}, the tag will be replaced with the subscriber's first name when the message sends. This can make it difficult to predict the exact number of characters each message will use with pinpoint accuracy though Postscript does include a credit estimator on each draft message.

Character Count and Credit Usage

GSM7 + GSM7 Extensive Characters

Message Type Characters Credits
Single SMS message Up to 160 characters 1 credit
Multi-part SMS message Up to 153 characters 1 credit for every 153 character-count block

Remember here that GSM7 characters count as one character each, while GSM7 Extensive Characters count as two characters each.

Emojis + GSM7 Extensive Characters

When you use an emoji in a message without an image or GIF, the character count drops to 70 available characters per credit.

Message Type Characters Credits
Single SMS message Up to 70 characters (including an emoji) 1 credit
Multi-part SMS message Up to 67 characters (including an emoji) 1 credit for every 67 character/emoji-count block

Remember here that each emoji you include in a message counts as two characters each, while each GSM7 Extensive Character now counts as one credit each.

MMS Messages

An MMS message includes an image or a GIF, which allows up to 1,600 characters for 3 credits. 

Characters Credits
1- 1,600 characters 3 credits

Remember here that each emoji you include in a message counts as two characters each, while each GSM7 and GSM7 Extensive Character count as one credit each. But now you have up to 1,600 characters available in your message.

SMS messages are divided into single SMS messages (160 characters / 70 characters & emojis) and multi-part SMS messages (153 characters / 67 characters & emojis). Messages that exceed the 160 character count qualify as a multi-part SMS message and include metadata. Our service provider uses the memory in the character count difference to capture that metadata to pass along to carriers. Passing along the metadata this way ultimately ensures the individual message parts are delivered together and in the proper sequence.

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